4 Best Grill Pans, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

We seared and sizzled indoors to find the best grill pans for you.

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October 27, 2021
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Tested by Beth Lipton for Food Network Kitchen

When we think of grilling, the first thing that comes to mind is cooking outdoors: warm summer weather, wearing shorts, using extra-long tongs and stopping to sip a cool beverage. And we want that feeling to continue even when it's not warm outside. That’s why a good grill pan is essential. A grill pan can give you those charred, caramelized flavors even when cooking inside.

As with all cookware, when you decide to invest in a grill pan, you have to consider the options. Nonstick? Cast iron? What size can you accommodate? Round or square? Do you want to be able to put it in the oven, and what type of cooktop are you working with?

We factored in all of that and more in testing an array of pans to bring you the best, no matter what your needs and preferences.

Photo by: Beth Lipton

Beth Lipton

What To Know About Grill Pans

  • When cooking on a grill pan, preheating is key to getting the sear you want. However, not all materials allow for this, so it's important to decide what you'll use your grill pan for.
  • Nonstick pans can be great for delicate proteins like fish and work pretty well when grilling vegetables. The downside is that they cannot be used over high heat because too much heat can sap the pan's nonstick quality.
  • A cast iron pan can take more heat, which can be great when cooking proteins like steak or burgers. But as easy to use as a well-seasoned one can be, some sticking may still happen, especially with delicate foods like fish. Not only does that make cooking a hassle, but it adds to the cleanup time, too.
  • If you want to put your grill pan in the oven for cooking something like a roast, you'll want to note the oven temperature the material can handle. Some pans can handle up to 500 degrees F, but others can only go up to 400 degrees F.
  • Finally, you'll want to consider shape. Grill pans typically come in round or square shapes. Depending on how much food you're cooking at one time, the shape may matter.
$75

This pan has all of the best qualities of the pans we tested, and none of the worst ones. Made from die cast aluminum, it’s sturdy but also feels relatively lightweight. It’s nonstick, but it isn’t coated, so you can preheat it to quite a high level without worrying about ruining the nonstick quality or the pan emitting fumes. It’s oven safe up to 480 degrees F, and fine to use on any type of cooktop. With 1.8-inch-high sides, there’s less splatter than some other pans we tested, and it comes with a bonus glass lid. A bonded steel base lends even cooking, and there’s a generous amount of surface area for grilling given its 10.6-inch diameter. Of all the pans, this one gave us the best results with the salmon — a combination of easy release and some grill marks. One note of caution: This pan’s handles are made from the same material as the pan, and they get extremely hot. We recommend using silicone oven mitts when touching them, especially if you’ve cooked over high heat and/or used the pan in the oven.

Buy It

The benefits of a nonstick grill pan are self-evident: They make quick weeknight dinners simple both on the cooking side and the cleanup. Of all the nonstick pans we tested, this one had the most going for it. It’s tough and sturdy but not overly heavy, with a comfortable-to-grip, long handle, 1½-inch-high sides and lots of grilling surface area in its 11-inch square shape. This pan is oven safe up to 450 degrees F, and good to go on gas, electric and glass-top stoves. Calphalon says this pan’s nonstick quality lasts 40% longer than its own Classic pans, and offers a lifetime warranty to back it up. We found that the pan got decently hot after a short preheat (not searing hot like cast iron, but pretty hot), salmon and burgers cooked evenly, and we were able to get some grill marks, if not very pronounced ones. The pan is dishwasher safe, but hand-washing is recommended — and it cleans up so easily by hand, we don’t know why anyone would bother taking up dishwasher real estate.

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Along with its usability, this pan also wins the beauty contest. It’s a stunner that you could feel good about bringing to the table (we tested the Sapphire Blue). As you would expect from enameled cast iron, this is a heavy pan, especially considering that with a 10-inch diameter, it's smaller than some others we tested — but not so heavy that it’s awkward or hard to transport from stove to oven. Speaking of the oven, this pan is oven safe to 500 degrees F, and fine to use on electric, gas, radiant, induction and halogen cooktops. The round handles on both sides are comfortable to grip, but they get extremely hot, so best to use silicone mitts. We had better luck with the burgers and bread than we did with the fish; even after preheating the pan and oiling the fish, the skin side stuck more than we wanted, though the flesh side released pretty well. The burgers came out great and had some grill marks, and the bread toasted evenly with good markings. Although we wouldn’t use this pan for absolutely everything, the same can be said for outdoor grills, so it’s a matter of a bit of trial and error. The good news is, cleaning off anything that sticks is pretty easy; as the company recommends, we soaked it in hot, soapy water for a few minutes, then used a non-abrasive sponge to scrub. After rinsing, we dried the pan thoroughly and rubbed with a small amount of oil.

Buy It

Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a good indoor grilling experience, there’s a lot to like about this nonstick pan. With 1¾-inch-high sides, plenty of grilling space and a very comfortable, sturdy rubberized handle, it’s a lot of pan for the money. This 11-inch square pan is oven safe up to 400 degrees F; though, as with other nonstick pans, lower heat is recommended to help it retain its nonstick quality (the company claims the pan will last 16 times longer than other nonstick pans, backed up with a lifetime warranty). Though we didn’t get very pronounced grill marks on the salmon or burgers, both cooked very well and released with no trouble, and the high sides meant almost no splatter. The grill marks on the bread weren’t 100% even, but the bread was toasted well all over. One advantage: The handle stayed cool during all of our cooking endeavors. And the pan has pour spouts on both sides, making simple work of pouring off any accumulated grease. This pan is not dishwasher safe, but cleanup was so easy, we wouldn’t do that anyway. A simple light scrub with soap, warm water and a non-abrasive sponge did the trick.

Buy It

Photo by: Beth Lipton

Beth Lipton

How We Tested

We purchased nine top-rated grill pans, made from different types of materials, including cast iron, nonstick, cast aluminum and ceramic. We noted whether the pans came with detailed instructions on how to use and care for them, whether there were any special claims for the pan, and how long each one’s warranty lasted. We weighed each pan and measured the height of the sides. Then, it was time to cook.

For each pan, we grilled a 4-ounce salmon filet on both sides to see how well it released from the pan. We also grilled two 4-ounce burgers. Finally, we grilled slices of white bread to see how evenly they toasted. For all of the pans, we followed the manufacturer’s instructions for how to preheat the pan, then we noted whether the items stuck, whether or not we got grill marks on the food, and how long it took to cook. Finally, we washed and dried the pans according to the instructions.

Along with the performance of each pan, we noted the price, as well as any special features, such as lids or pour spouts.

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